In recognition of Black History Month, the St. Sebastian's Community gathered in Ward Hall for the annual Black History Month Assembly, "One Love," on Monday, February 10. The gathering was filled with powerful words and music.
The assembly began with a welcome from Men with Positive Attitudes President Kristian Rosario ‘20 and an opening prayer from Fr. John Arens. Students shared the stories of slaves, reciting slave narratives by John Fields and Sallie Crane, as well as an excerpt of the West India Emancipation speech by Frederick Douglass. The program was further enriched by musical performances. Violinist Christian Casiano '21 and performed "Deep River Negro Spiritual." The Dana Hall Gospel Choir, led by Mr. David Coleman, sang several songs, including "Who Is Like The Lord," "There’s A Lifting," and "His Eye Is On the Sparrow."
The highlight of the assembly was hearing from the keynote speaker Caroline Hunter, an anti-apartheid activist and history maker, as well as a longtime educator, workshop presenter and story teller. Hunter has received several honors and awards for her exceptional commitment to ensuring equity for minorities, as well as her community service efforts.
A native of New Orleans, Hunter spoke about her upbringing during segregation, graduating from high school in 1964 as the Civil Rights Act was passed, and getting her bachelor’s degree in chemistry at the only historically Black Catholic College in the US, Xavier University, before beginning her first job at Polaroid Corporation. Impacted by her childhood, including lessons learned from Cry the Beloved Country – a book that had a powerful influence on her – Hunter made an unwavering commitment to help free Black South Africans through boycotting Polaroid when she learned the company was supporting apartheid in South Africa. She told St. Sebastian’s students “My story is an example of how ordinary people can change history and make a difference in the quality of life for others.”
Thank you to Mr. Meyer Chambers and the members of Men with Positive Attitudes and to the Dana Hall Gospel Choir for being a part of our Black History Month Assembly. And a special thank you to Mrs. Hunter for sharing her story with us.